Pilgrims celebrate 135 years of Catholic faith

Papal Nuncio to Uganda Archbishop Michael Augusto Blume presides over celebrations to mark 135 years of Catholic evangelism in Uganda at Kigungu Catholic Church yesterday. He said Uganda was a lucky country for hosting the first missionaries who came to the interior of Africa. PHOTO BY MARTIN SSEBUYIRA

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The Papal Nuncio to Uganda calls for canonising of the first Catholic evangelists who arrived in the country 135 years ago.

Entebbe- About 7,000 Catholic pilgrims worldwide thronged Kigungu Catholic Church yesterday to celebrate 135 years of evangelism in Uganda.

Pilgrims from Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, islands around Lake Victoria, Masaka, Luweero and Kampala dioceses paid homage to the day the first catholic missionaries landed in Entebbe.

“After reading history, enduring wild animals, mosquitoes, language barrier and long distance, these White Fathers should be canonised,” Papal Nuncio to Uganda Archbishop Michael Augustine told the pilgrims.

He said he thinks no one could be canonised if the fathers are not since they are the backbone to Catholic evangelism in Uganda.

The Papal Nuncio said Uganda is one of the luckiest countries because from all the five missionaries who came to Africa, it was only Fr Lourdel Mapel a.k.a. Mapeera and Brother Delmas Amans who first arrived in Uganda peacefully.

The duo was the first missionaries at Kigungu Landing Site on February 17, 1879 and were later joined by other missionaries.

The Nuncio said the place was no longer only for Bugonga or Entebbe residents but an international site where all missionaries in Africa are brought to pay homage.
The Archbishop of Kampala Diocese, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, said Uganda would still be in the “dark” if the missionaries never evangelised.

“Imagine a country 135 years back without schools, hospitals and churches. What would it be like?” he asked.

Archbishop Lwanga urged Christians to pray for the White Fathers to become canonised because they spread the Catholic faith.


Fr Lourdel Simeon Mapel and Brother Delmas Amans with their nine companions set out for the central or equatorial Africa which was at that time commonly called the territories of Victoria Nyanza and Tanganyika. On Febuary 15, they reached Bugoma on Ssese Islands and on 17th, they went ashore at Kyettale in Kigungu Landing Site where a monument marks the spot.